Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari


 I’ll start with an apology for the quality of the photograph. It’s overexposed in the centre so it’s hard to make out even the shape of the very object I wanted to capture but trust me, it was taken in very poor lighting on my iPad – so it was the best I could do!

So why did I bother to take a fairly poor quality photograph in yet another Venecian church where I was forbidden to use a camera or smartphone (hence the use of a tablet)? Well this object is only available to view in Holy Week and, if genuine, is the most remarkable relic I’ve ever heard of let alone seen in real life.

The tabernacle of this ornate Baroque altar holds a crystal vase containing a small amount of balm which was allegedly mixed with a few drops of Christ’s blood collected by Mary Magdalene. The relic was highly worshipped in St. Christine’s Church in Constantinople until it came into the possession of (surely a euphemism for ‘was stolen or looted by’) Melchiore Trevisan, a Fleet Commander, in 1479. Upon returning from the Orient he donated it to the Frari church.

I am not a great lover of relics and I realise that anything attributed to an event 2,000 years ago is, to say the least, of dubious authenticity. However I am pleased we visited this church in the one week of the year that such an unusual object was on display.

There were some people in the church blatantly ignoring the wishes of those that look after the building and were using their cameras. I would have loved to have taken a ‘proper’ shot with my compact digital but decided to ‘play by the rules’ and use my iPad.

By sheer contrast, we later visited the Museum of Modern Art. This was one of the works on display…


It was entitled “A Work in Steel and Brass with a Refrigerator Motor”. Then I remembered – today is April Fools Day!